Skip to content
BACK to Press Releases

National Brain Tumor Society to Honor Pioneers In Brain Tumor Research, Advocacy, and Volunteerism at 2016 National Gray Gala

Published on October 13, 2016 in Press Release

Annual gala and silent/live auction at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston on November 11th will raise much-needed funds to help adult and pediatric brain tumor patients

National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), the largest nonprofit in the United States dedicated to the brain tumor community and cause, will recognize and celebrate the achievements of change-makers from across the brain tumor community during its annual The National Gray Gala on November 11, 2016 at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The event will also raise funds and much-needed awareness to help achieve the National Brain Tumor Society’s mission of finding better treatments and ultimately a cure for all brain tumors. For those who wish to attend or sponsor the National Gray Gala please register HERE.

With Emily Riemer, WCVB-TV NewsCenter 5 anchor, serving as Master of Ceremony, The National Gray Gala will host hundreds of attendees from a cross-section of the brain tumor community, including patients, survivors, caregivers, advocates, researchers, clinicians, and philanthropists. Proceeds from the event, which will also feature dazzling city and harbor views on the Boston waterfront in the bustling Seaport District, silent and live auctions, entertainment, cocktails, dinner, and special guests will support the core programs of the National Brain Tumor Society for both adults and children.

Award Winners to be Honored:  

2016 Richard B. Ross Founder’s Award for Pediatric Brain Tumor Research

Suzanne Baker, PhD
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Dr. Suzanne Baker is Director, Brain Tumor Research Division; Co-Leader, Neurobiology & Brain Tumor Program; and Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is a leader in the field of pediatric neuro-oncology, former Co-Chair of NBTS Scientific Advisory Committee, and a lead investigator in the National Brain Tumor Society’s Defeat Pediatric Brain Tumors Research Collaborative. At St Jude, she has directed her efforts towards understanding how disruption of key signaling pathways contributes to the development of high-grade gliomas, including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in children. A generous grant from the National Brain Tumor Society helped to launch her research into DIPG, which suggested differences in the genetic changes driving DIPG compared to adult glioblastoma. Dr. Baker’s lab has co-discovered unexpected mutations in pediatric brain tumors demonstrating unique connections between brain development and cancer that are also a focus of her ongoing research.

2016 Feldman Founder’s Award for Adult Brain Tumor Research

Webster Cavenee, PhD
Ludwig Cancer Research

Dr. Webster Cavenee is the Director, Strategic Alliances-CNS at Ludwig Cancer Research. Previously, Dr. Cavenee served as Director of Ludwig Cancer Research, San Diego and a Distinguished Professors at the University of California, San Diego, since 1991. Dr. Cavenee is also a member of the Strategic Scientific Advisory Council of NBTS’ Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. Dr. Cavenee is a pioneer in our understanding of the role that hereditary predisposition plays in the development of cancer. His work on the genetic basis of cancer predisposition and progression comprises more than 370 publications and has been recognized with more than 100 honors and awards, most notably the Rhoads Award of American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the Charles S. Mott Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, and the Albert Szent Gyorgyi Award. His work in glioblastoma (GBM) research, including with the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative earned him AACR’s 2014 Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research. Recently, Dr. Cavenee has been coordinating global efforts to translate the science in the field of brain tumors into better outcomes for patients. He is a co-investigator and executive committee member of GBM AGILE, a global, adaptive clinical trial.

2016 Volunteer of the Year Award

Steven Branfman

 Steve Branfman, who lost his son to a brain tumor, is the co-chair of the Boston Brain Tumor Ride – a position he has volunteered for five years running – and captain of Team Kermit. Team Kermit is a perennial top fundraising team at the Boston Brain Tumor Ride, having raised nearly $140,000 for the Ride over the years.

2016 Advocate of the Year Award

Matt Hanson

Matt Hanson is a brain tumor advocate from Seattle, Washington. He serves as volunteer State Lead Advocate for Washington and regularly participates in the National Brain Tumor Society’s public policy advocacy program and activities, including attending the yearly Head to the Hill Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Matt lost his brother-in-law to a brain tumor in July of 2014.

2016 Emerging Leadership Award

Tara Mitchell

Tara Mitchell, 23, is a five-year brain tumor survivor and fundraiser. Tara has organized her own fundraising event, Blow Out Brain Tumors, as well as participated in, and volunteered to help organize, National Brain Tumor Society-hosted events in the New York and New Jersey area. In 2015 she served as acting volunteer co-chair of the New York City Brain Tumor Walk and in 2016 she served in the same position for the inaugural Central New Jersey Brain Tumor Walk. Her team, Tara and the Brains, has participated in both events and were the leading fundraisers for the Central New Jersey Brain Tumor Walk this year.

“As a patient advocacy and research funding nonprofit, National Brain Tumor Society can only be as strong as the dedicated volunteers and supporters who are the lifeblood of this organization, as well as the brain tumor community, in general,” said David F. Arons, JD, Chief Executive Officer, National Brain Tumor Society. “We thank Drs. Baker and Cavenee for their many contributions to brain tumor research and tireless determination to find better treatments for these patients. Moreover, both have been extremely generous with their time and commitment to working with NBTS on our core programs. Matt, Steve, and Tara all exemplify the spirit that everyone in this community has a role to play. All three are great ambassadors for the brain tumor community and we at NBTS are most grateful for their leadership and generosity.”

The Colony Group, leaders in Wealth Management, will serve as Platinum Sponsors for The National Gray Gala. ZIOPHARM will serve as Silver Sponsor. Steel Sponsors include Brigham & Women’s Hospital Department of Neurosurgery; Lowenstein Sandler, LLP; Bracewell, LLP; NICO; and Fiduciary Investment Advisors. Merrimack Pharmaceuticals will provide Pewter-level support. Century Bank will sponsor the awards. Land Escapes will be the exclusive provider of centerpieces and Good Copy Visual Communications is our exclusive invitation sponsor. WCVB-TV is the event’s Media Partner, Randall Garnick Photography will provide photography, and As The Sparrow will provide entertainment for the evening.

Nearly 700,000 Americans are currently living with a primary brain tumor – with more than 77,670 new diagnoses expected in 2016 – and an estimated 16,616 people will die because of a primary malignant brain tumor this year. Further, pediatric brain tumors are the most prevalent form of tumor in children and young adults under the age of 19, and the leading cause of cancer death in all children and adolescents under 19. More than any other cancer, a brain tumor can have life-altering psychological, cognitive, behavioral, and physical effects. There are no known prevention or early detection methods, few treatment options, and no cure.


Stay Informed & Connected